The Montana Senate voted 42-8 to pass HB 541, the so called ‘Brewery Bill’ today, April 6, during a hearing. The bill has gone through significant changes as it winds through the legislature, but Sponsor Adam Hertz says he brought the bill hoping to increase business opportunities for Montana breweries.

"Current state law limits breweries that have a taproom to brewing only 10,000 barrels of beer a year," Hertz said. "So, if you have a taproom like most breweries in Missoula do, you either have to close your taproom or cap your production, which is not good for these small Montana Businesses."

The Brewery Bill passed through the House relatively unchanged, and would have increased the number of beer barrels allowed from 10,000 to 60,000 per year.

"This would allow breweries like Big Sky Brewery to operate taprooms and Bayern Brewery, which pushes up against that 10,000 barrel cap every year which shuts down their distribution to grocery stores and restaurants, it would allow them to invest in their businesses, grow jobs, grow the economy and, hopefully, ship more beer out of state," Hertz said.

The bill was changed significantly by the Senate Business and Labor Committee, which added amendments reducing the number of barrels allowed to just 12,000, adding a tax, and making changes that would effectively halt the operation of the Northside Kettlehouse tap room. Hertz says those amendments “made it a bad bill,” but was relieved that most were stripped back out yesterday. The bill is back up for a hearing Friday and will likely go through Conference Committee next week.